Blake Small has revisited heartbreak to motivate himself for a match with significant implications.
A win for Gunnedah against Tamworth at Wolseley Oval on Sunday will secure them top spot in the Connolly Cup's Namoi Conference ahead of the February 14 semi-finals.
Still fresh in Small's mind is last season's competition, when Gunnedah were eliminated after their semi-final clash against Gwydir was washed out.
Gwydir advanced to the final, where they beat Moree, as they finished ahead of Gunnedah on the ladder.
Small does not want a similar fate to befall Gunnedah this season, as the undefeated side looks to repeat their Connolly Cup triumph in 2017-18.
"It's really important to finish top of the table ... If there's a washout, it [the result] goes your way," he said.
Small led first-placed Gunnedah that season, and has made no secret of his burning desire to win the competition again.
On Sunday, he will lead a strong side that will include Andy Mack and Farran Lamb.
He expects fourth-placed Tamworth to also field a strong side.
"It's probably gonna be one of the biggest games of the year," the skipper said.
He added: "If Tamworth lose, they're pretty much out [of the competition].
"And if we lose, we've got a hard [final round] match against Narrabri [Gold]."
With one round remaining following Sunday's clash, rescheduled from earlier in the season, Gunnedah lead on 18 points.
Narrabri Blue sit second on 14 points, while Narrabri Gold and Tamworth are in third and fourth sport on 13 and 12 points respectively.
Small said Mack would be "key" for Gunnedah on Sunday.
He comes into the side for Mathew Agostino, who was unavailable for selection.
"With the side I've got, I'm very confident," Small said, adding: "To be honest, we haven't done too much different with our side [this round] - just brought one or two extra players in."